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President Obama Wants You to Use Kickstarter to Help Syrian Refugees

The White House’s #AidRefugees initiative taps the popular crowdfunding site to make it easier than ever for anyone to get involved in the global relief effort.

image via (cc) flickr user oxfam

As refugees fleeing violence in Syria continue to stream out of that country and into Europe, President Obama this week tapped an unlikely ally to help lead relief efforts for what has become a global crisis.


Kickstarter, in what The New York Times calls its “first social service campaign” has partnered with the United Nations Refugee Agency for a week long campaign to raise funds to support Syrian refugees as they build new lives for themselves in Europe. The campaign, which The Times reports came at the request of White House officials, is one of several government-touted crowdfunding and donation projects being promoted by the Obama administration as ways the American public can easily contribute to ongoing relief efforts for the millions who have fled Syria and other war-torn nations. Through Kickstarter, users can donate money to buy refugees simple necessities such as sleeping bags ($15), clean drinking water ($30) and even a year’s worth of education and care ($600). In just one day campaign has raised nearly one million dollars from over fourteen thousand contributors.

On the White House blog, staffer Joshua Miller cites money collected in the late 1800’s to fund construction on the Statue of Liberty’s base as an example of how ordinary citizens can put their dollars to good use when it comes to making a large impact from small contributions. He writes:

“...[Y]ou do not need to be a government or Fortune 100 company to #AidRefugees.

From non-governmental organizations to small businesses to congregations in communities across the country, Americans are using what they have to contribute to this effort. Just like we banded together in 1885, we can join together to provide shelter, food, and medical assistance to these people in need. It’s the American thing to do.”

Joining Kickstarter in their White House approved relief efforts is online grocery shopping service Instacart, which has added the ability for users to donate food rations to refugee families. Similarly, lodging service Airbnb has set up a donations page for users to channel funds to the UN High Commission on Refugees, as well as is providing housing credits for aid workers traveling to assist in the ongoing refugee crisis in Greece, Serbia and Macedonia. Beyond these crowdfunded and service-based donations, the U.S. government has also given nearly five billion dollars for immediate humanitarian assistance in this refugee crisis, and pledged to increase the intake of refugees to 100,000 annually, over the coming two years.

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit the White House’s #AidRefugees resource page.